- The first building block is Eucharist. The celebration of Mass is the source and summit of our lives as faithful Catholics. The liturgical prayers throughout the Mass flow from the heart of stewardship.
- The second building block is Prayer. All parish organizations should model this for parishioners by beginning all meetings or activities with prayer. This models a stewardship mindset that offers everything to God.
- The third building block is Hospitality, from Matthew 25:35 “When I was a stranger, you welcomed me.” Hospitality is providing opportunities for people to gather casually and socially to form community. Parishes need to use as many methods as possible to help people feel included as part of the parish community.
- Communication is the fourth building block. Consistent, continual, up to date, friendly and clear communications are needed in each parish. This includes not only the bulletin, and pulpit announcements, but also newsletters, the parish website, phone calls, and even new forms communication such as blogging, texting and social media. When people believe that they are informed, they experience a sense of belonging. If the whole parish communication plan is pulpit announcements and the bulletin, there are no opportunities to touch those people who do not attend Mass every Sunday.
Following are the last three building blocks:
- Formation is the fifth building block of a stewardship way of life in the parish. Just because people hear the word stewardship, they do not necessarily live a “stewardship way of life.” Parishes need to provide opportunities for people to learn and live a stewardship lifestyle. The Compass Catholic Bible Study Navigating Your Finances God’s Way is an excellent tool to help parishioners examine their attitude toward stewardship and to evaluate their personal finances in light of the Bible.
- Mission is the sixth building block. Parishioners seek the parish family as the community where they can serve and be served—where they give and receive. If a parishioner finds this fulfillment, they will feel connected to the parish. People need to have a place where their service is appreciated and utilized for good.
Many parishes we visit have outreach programs ranging from serving parishioners to serving foreign missions. The important thing is to get the parishioners involved in outreach activities and to communicate the changes that occur in people’s lives as a result of parish efforts.
- Integration is the seventh and final building block. Stewardship is more than a report on the weekly offertory in the bulletin. It’s a message that is vital to parish life. It’s sending the same message multiple times in different ways. The building blocks of Eucharist, Prayer, Communication, Hospitality, Formation and Mission all need to be integrated to form the foundation for a community living Stewardship.
Which building block of stewardship is strongest in your parish? Which need to be stronger?
Stewardship is not a program, it is a way of life in the parish, and it has to start at the top. If you think a parish can preach stewardship once a year when it’s time for the financial commitment, and make a difference in the lives of your parishioners, you are only fooling yourself. True stewardship takes work and dedication, and lots of time, but it can make all the difference in the world in a parish.